Ghana’s Ambassador to China believes that China-Ghana Partnership would strengthen after the COVID-19 Pandemic, and noted that the George Floyd incident happened due to the systemic injustice in American Society and that China & Africa should work together to make the world a kinder and gentler place.
As for the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) Projects in the Country, Ambassador Edward Boateng told in an interview that “None of the BRI Projects have been cancelled or stopped” amid the coronavirus pandemic and Ghana needs China’s Investment to develop and modernise the Country.
Ghana’s BRI projects include the Tema Harbour expansion, Bui Dam hydroelectricity project & the development of industrial parks
Systemic Injustice in the US
“I hope the George Floyd incident can be the change of the historical and systemic injustice in US society,” Boateng said.
It has been more than two weeks since African-American Floyd was killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis who knelt on his neck. The incident sparked nationwide protests across the US, with demonstrators desperately calling for an end to police violence and racism.
“Floyd’s tragic death has brought up the century-long issue which hasn’t changed or got any better. But we can see many young generations from all different ethnic backgrounds joining the protests,” said the Ambassador. “I hope it will be a wake-up call for all leaders, including the US, that it’s time to change and treat all people regardless of their ethnic backgrounds.”
Ghana has been outspoken over the Floyd incident, with Ghanaian President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo joining millions of people across the globe to seek justice for Floyd.
He wrote in a Facebook post that the death of Floyd “carried with it an all too painful familiarity and an ugly reminder. It cannot be right that, in the 21st century, the United States, this great bastion of democracy, continues to grapple with the problem of systemic racism.”
Ghana’s former President Jerry John Rawlings has also condemned the racist killing of Floyd, saying “Shame on America” in one of his tweets.
“Ghana has always been at the forefront of the Pan-African movement. There is a strong connection between us and African Americans, many of whom came from West Africa,” said Boateng.
Pan-Africanism is a worldwide movement that aims to encourage and strengthen bonds of solidarity between all indigenous and diaspora ethnic groups of African descent. Based on a common goal dating back to the Atlantic slave trade, the movement extends beyond continental Africans with a substantial support base among the African diaspora in the Americas and Europe.
The envoy noted that Akufo-Addo in 2018 declared and formally launched the “Year of Return, Ghana 2019,” 400 years after African slaves were taken to the US, giving fresh impetus to the quest to unite Africans on the continent with their brothers and sisters in the diaspora.
“What we can do is for us to build more wealth, to develop our country so African Americans will feel proud of their heritage as Africans just like what the overseas Chinese feel about China now since China’s opening-up and reform,” the Ambassador stated.
“The Floyd incident reminds us that we don’t have to depend on the West or anybody for development as it will be a pretty sizeable economic market if we put Africans in the world together,” Boateng added.
“‘Western civilisation,’ ‘Western religion,’ and ‘Western education’ have been able to ‘denaturalize’ all of us in a way so that we have to be like them.” Boateng also shared his thoughts on the previous incident in Guangzhou, South China’s Guangdong Province, in which some Western media outlets criticised China’s “discriminatory treatment” of Africans over the COVID-19 Pandemic.
The incident in Guangzhou was due to the lack of communication and what happened in Guangzhou is very different from the Floyd incident in the US, Boateng said, noting that the latter is caused by systemic injustice, so”they should not be put together.”
He stressed that the Chinese authorities made a conscious effort to mediate and responded quickly to rectify the issue. However, many black people have lost their lives in the US due to racism, and the US government did not react properly, as the Chinese government did.
Development Under BRI
China & Ghana have been working together closely under BRI
In 2019, the China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) won a contract to carry out the second phase of the expansion work of Ghana’s eastern port of Tema to expand facilities and improve the port’s cargo-handling capacity, while the first phase of the expansion work was also done by CHEC at a cost of $1.5 billion, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
However, some media outlets criticised this project, saying it showed China’s ambition to “neo-colonize” Africa and expressed concerns that it may displace local people and bring many bad effects to their lives.
In response to this, the Ambassador noted that “the Tema Harbour has been one of the legacy projects of Ghana’s Founding President Kwame Nkrumah.”
“Although some small official departments might need to be relocated, local residents will not be displaced totally by the project as it is mainly a port expansion,” said the envoy. “Because Ghana is also pushing itself to be the commercial hub of West Africa, it needs deep water ports. That is what we are doing with Chinese as it can assist us to allow bigger ships to dock at the port.”
Boateng explained that the Ghanaian government has put in place measures to take care of the livelihoods of those who cannot continue doing their current jobs. For example, the government has prepared fish pools for fishermen so they don’t have to go to sea in their small boats.
Residents can also earn more money and have better lifestyles because of the job opportunities provided by the expansion, he added.
It is not for the West, but for us to decide what is good for ourselves, he said. “Tema expansion is a very good project for local people. We need development to improve people’s lives.”
Boateng admitted that some of the BRI projects between China and Ghana have slowed down due to the coronavirus outbreak, but noted that none of them has been cancelled or stopped.
“The two countries have carried out BRI projects in various fields in terms of hydro, infrastructure, transportation and electricity and we believe in what the Chinese do: If you build roads, you create wealth,” the Ambassador said.
“We also have a ‘one district one factory’ program, meaning that every province, county and village has a major factory to support and modernise the local economy and take care of most of the local residents.”
“Post-pandemic China-Ghana cooperation will become even closer. China and Africa have to come together to make the world a much kinder and gentler place and lead the rest of the world along with us,” said Boateng.
“China has handled the COVID-19 epidemic very well and Africa has also done its best to contain the virus and stopped it from becoming a catastrophe on the continent,” the envoy noted, adding that China and Africa should cooperate more not only on the political level but also in people-to-people exchanges, such as culture and sports, as there has to be a deeper understanding of the relationship beyond politics.